So, what is Zero Waste Jam?
Our friend Brigita Žvikart of the Slovenian social venture eTRI asked me some questions for their magazine. Since the interview only will be available in Slovenian we thought it would be a nice idea to publish the answers in English as well. Time to dig into the topic of Zero Waste and Zero Waste Jam. What is it, really?
What was the main reason you started the Zero Waste Jam?
The business behind Zero Waste Jam is the sustainability and creativity agency The Good Tribe. We started in 2009 and through our Brazilian partner Zero Waste Institute Brazil we came across the concept of Zero Waste in 2011. We’d been looking to form a vision for our business and when we learned more about the concept of Zero Waste Jam we were thrilled. Of course – a Zero Waste society is our vision! Zero Waste takes material waste or trash, as well as not wasting human talents and resources into account. It’s a philosophy that embraces the importance of taking care of our planet and removing the concept of waste from our economic system. Nothing should be buried nor incinerated; it’s an approach to close the loop. Regarding humans and waste, trash is a dangerous toxic business. Often it's the poorest of the poor in different parts of the world that end up dealing with our waste. For example, think about the electronic waste being dumped in India, China, Malaysia and Kenya, just to name a few countries.
In 2011 we realized that we wanted to set up our own Zero Waste initiative, in order to know the concept of Zero Waste inside out. We went through an ideation process and Zero Waste Jam was one of the ideas that were born. We really enjoy running a product based initiative, something that is easy for the customer to understand. And I think we’ve done a good job. Most people understand immediately what Zero Waste Jam is all about. We make delicious jam from fruits that would otherwise be thrown away.
Which is the impact you create?
We try to produce Zero Waste Jam as locally as possible. We reduce CO2 in terms of local production and distribution, and using fruits that are already out there and would otherwise be thrown away. We create working opportunities for the producers, and create Zero Waste lifestyle awareness in our community of customers, stores, suppliers and others that are involved in the initiative. Right now we are looking for ways to expand Zero Waste Jam to other countries. We are also about to dive even deeper into an awareness building campaign where Zero Waste Jam is the ambassador, the proof that a Zero Waste lifestyle and business is possible.
What is the main challenge when presenting people the idea of zero waste society?
That our current society is based on consumerism and that trash is an important factor for upholding this system. Historically seen, trash is a new concept. Since the beginning of industrialization, literally exploding in the 1950s we live in a constantly spinning, take-make-waste society. Plastic bags, food waste, packaging, diapers, chemicals, electronics, and even nuclear waste and highly toxic ashes from incinerators are only a few of our most pressing problems. As an end-consumer it's easy to feel overwhelmed with the enormous challenges we face as a society. I know that feeling very well myself.
But there's actually so much you can do! One of the easiest things you can do is to stop using plastic bags. Always keep a textile tote bag in your handbag or backpack when you go shopping. Buy groceries with minimal or no packaging. And never ever throw away food. Private consumer accounts for 40% of all food that is thrown away globally each year. An easy way of avoiding food waste is to open your fridge and have a look what is actually in there before you go shopping. Simply, eat up before you buy new stuff. Wasting food means wasting money.
When talking about sustainability is it usually more tricky to address people. Do you have any good advice?
There is so much you can do. As a business I think it's important not to blame the customer. Take responsibility for your actions and make it easy for the customer to do the right thing. Make it attractive and fun for the customer to engage in a sustainable and ethical buying decision. Educate and involve your customers and ask for their feedback. There are so many good examples out there. Businesses and other organizations all over the world understand that we need to transform the way that we conduct business in order to save the planet. I think some of the coolest businesses out there are Impact Hub, Patagonia and Lunzers Maßgreißlerei. I also like to look at examples like IKEA and H&M. Not only because I'm Swedish. But because they are industry leaders, they have major sustainability and ethical supply-chain problems, and still they continue to put sustainability in the foreground of their business strategies and marketing. They are certainly not perfect. But they recognize the importance of an environmental friendly and socially conscious, as well as a financially viable business model.
Which are the 3 most important things that inspire you in your daily life?
I get inspired by doing stuff. I think some of the most exciting solutions are born under pressure. When you show up and do the work. When you have a set of expectations or limitations that you need to abide by. That's when my unwillingness to comply forces me to think new creative thoughts, outside of the box. Even reinvesting the box.
I also find it highly inspiring to read about or hang out with other people that do a lot of things. I mainly get inspired by women that disrupt and challenge old rigid patriarchal systems, and create new opportunities for themselves their families and communities. I'm a huge fan of Majora Carter, JK Rowlings, Florence Nightingale, Kakan Hermansson and fictional characters like Katniss Everdeen and Sookie Stackhouse. I also find bloggers like Kat of Rock'n roll Bride, Gala Darling, Sarah Wilson inspiring. They all have very clear messages, which they manage to communicate to people all around the globe.
I'm a very active and intense person. I run and workout a lot, this creates space in my brain for new ideas and inspiration. I love lying down in Savasana after doing yoga and looking at the clouds, not because any new ideas pop-up but because it's a moment where I gather energy for the hard and fun creative work I do all day long.